The Nation In Brief

D.C. food fight threatens world aid


The Bush administration is fighting congressional efforts to slash the amount of emergency food aid the United States provides around the world, saying the cuts could hurt as many as 8 million people in dire need.

Members of Congress argue that the reductions in aid, which are included in both the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of a new five-year farm bill, are necessary to ensure there are enough dollars for longer-term projects that they say are equally, if not more, important because they can prevent drought, famine and other catastrophes in developing countries.

But the administration says they would hamstring the U.S. humanitarian response to global crises and the U.S. ability to reduce suffering among the world's most impoverished people.

The debate cuts to the heart of philosophical differences over foreign aid and, for some, touches on the age-old question of whether it is better to give a man a fish to feed himself immediately or teach a man to fish so he can eat for years to come.

At issue are provisions in both versions of the farm bill that would set strict limits on the amount the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development can spend on "emergency" and "non-emergency" food assistance overseas.

911 caller pleaded during tiger attack


"It's a matter of life and death!" the caller screamed, but a 911 dispatcher said there was a delay: Paramedics needed to make sure the tiger loose in the San Francisco Zoo wasn't going to attack them.

Either Paul or Kulbir Dhaliwal made the 911 call from outside a zoo cafe on Dec. 25, asking that a helicopter be brought in to rescue his brother, according to a recording of the call released Tuesday.

"At the cafe, we have the tiger!" an officer shouts into his radio just after 5:27 p.m., according to a recording of police dispatch traffic, about four minutes after the call between the brother and the 911 dispatcher ends. "We have the tiger attacking the victim!"

Less than a minute later, another call comes over the radio to stop shooting.

"We have the cat. We shot the cat," an officer says. "The victim is being attended to."

Apple launches online movie rentals


Apple Inc. has redoubled its effort to distribute movies online, gaining a foothold in a promising but unproven business that could eventually bolster its other core products.

The tech giant launched a movie rental service at its online iTunes Store Tuesday and won the alliances of all six major movie studios to supply content.

Under terms similar to those at other online movie providers, rental prices range from $2.99 for library titles, $3.99 for new releases, and $1 extra for high-definition versions. The movies are ready to watch almost instantly over a high-speed Internet connection, and users have a 24-hour period to watch each movie once they start it.

The service, which launched in the U.S. on Tuesday and will roll out internationally later this year, will work on Macs, Windows-based machines, iPhones, iPods or the Apple TV set-top box.

"" The Associated Press

Troubled actor Brad Renfro found dead in his Los Angeles home at age 25


Actor Brad Renfro, whose career began promisingly with a childhood role in "The Client" but rapidly faded as he struggled with drugs and alcohol, was found dead in his home. He was 25.

Paramedics pronounced him dead at 9 a.m. Tuesday, said Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner's office. The cause of death was not immediately determined, Harvey said, but an autopsy could be conducted as early as today.

Renfro had reportedly been drinking with friends the evening before his death, Harvey said.

Renfro's lawyer, Richard Kaplan, said he did not know whether the death was connected to any problems with addiction.

"He was working hard on his sobriety," Kaplan said. "He was doing well. He was a nice person."

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